Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science

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1 DELTAS Africa Initiative Outline Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science August 2014 Improving School Governance 1

2 The Wellcome Trust and its partners have launched an initiative with a long-term vision: to support the development of the next generation of scientists and research leaders in sub-saharan Africa, who will play a major part in advancing research and health in the continent. Vision The vision of DELTAS Africa is to support the African-led development of world-class researchers and research leaders in Africa. This new generation of scientists will play a major part in shaping and driving a locally relevant health research agenda in Africa, contributing to improved health and development in the continent. Overview of the initiative DELTAS Africa aims to produce world-class scientific research in health by helping to develop the next generation of African researchers and research leaders. The initiative will fund training programmes that focus on producing researchers with the capacity to conduct, publish and lead locally relevant and high-quality research that will have an impact on health science, policy and practice in Africa. It will do this by moving the centre of gravity for funding African health research to the continent itself, by transitioning the management and funding of DELTAS Africa to an African institution over time. This shift is a new and crucial element in the long-term strategy of the initiative, which also aims to enhance collaboration with other funders to co-ordinate activities and support for African research. The health gap and the health research gap in Africa provide an overwhelming rationale for investments to accelerate the development of research excellence in sub-saharan Africa. In addition, national health policy makers are increasingly recognising the importance of locally relevant research, and national governments are increasingly acknowledging the broader social and economic impacts of investments in science and technology. The Wellcome Trust has supported the development of health research leadership and high-quality scientific environments in low- and middle-income countries through several different models. These have focused on the development of talented individual researchers, as well as strengthening institutional and national environments for research. Building on this, and in recognition of the long-term commitment needed to strengthen and sustain capacity developments, DELTAS Africa has been designed with a long-term vision to support the development of world-class health research leaders in sub-saharan Africa by investing in their training and working environments. DELTAS Africa 2

3 To achieve its vision, DELTAS Africa will fund programmes that address four strategic areas: scientific quality research training scientific citizenship research management and environment. These strategic areas have been recognised as necessary for strengthening, sustaining, attracting and retaining excellence in research. Within each strategic area, the initiative identifies several key outcomes; these key outcomes can be considered as descriptions of capacities required for that strategic area to function well. The initiative s strategic areas and key outcomes have been identified using stakeholder consultation and through the Trust s experience in research capacity strengthening in low- and middle-income countries. A map of the strategic areas and the key outcomes is presented in Figure 1. Objectives The objectives of DELTAS Africa are aligned to the strategic areas. They are: to produce world-class scientific research that addresses African health and research priorities through scientific discourse and collaborative supervision to strengthen scientific research training and build career pathways for scientific researchers to foster mentorship, leadership and equitable collaboration in science, and engagement with public and policy stakeholders to cultivate professional environments to manage and support scientific research. Call for proposals DELTAS Africa invites proposals for healthfocused scientific programmes aligned to the initiative s strategic areas and key outcomes taking into consideration local research needs, resources, priorities and existing capacity. This flexible approach is intended to encourage innovation by supporting alternative activities and processes, within the remit of the initiative. The primary location of proposed programmes must be in sub-saharan Africa, and preliminary applications are invited from universities and research institutions based in this region; institutions outside sub-saharan Africa are invited to collaborate on applications led by a sub-saharan African institution. Applications that support diverse workplaces and research environments are encouraged. Awards will be made for up to five years, with opportunities for competitive renewal anticipated after this period. Application forms and guidance notes are available online at Preliminary applications close GMT, 2 October Successful preliminary applicants will be invited to submit a full application by GMT, 29 January 2015, and funding decisions will be made in May DELTAS Africa

4 DELTAS Africa 4 Figure 1. DELTAS Africa strategic areas and key outcomes

5 Programme strategy and management In addition to the four strategic areas of the initiative, successful programmes will have a defined scientific research strategy that is relevant to regional health and health research priorities. Programmes should capitalise on the existing strengths of institutional partners, which should be selected based on their ability to contribute to this research strategy and to the overall programme. Programmes must also demonstrate the ability to implement robust internal programme governance and management, and should consider issues of long-term sustainability. Monitoring and evaluation Monitoring and evaluation processes support learning and development, provide accountability to stakeholders, and provide grants assurance to funders. Dedicated staff should be assigned to monitoring and evaluation, and appropriate activities and resources should be included in all programmes. Individual programmes will be required to develop monitoring and evaluation plans and to integrate their findings into improved practice. Programmes will also be required to participate in an initiative-wide monitoring and evaluation plan that will evaluate the performance and impact of the initiative and the research it generates. The following sections describe the four strategic areas and associated key outcomes of the initiative, together with example activities that applicants might wish to consider in their proposals. 5 DELTAS Africa

6 Scientific quality Objective 1: To produce world-class scientific research that addresses African health and research priorities through scientific discourse and collaborative supervision Ensuring that training and research is of high quality is a priority of the initiative. DELTAS Africa aims to produce world-class research that addresses local health and research priorities, so quality must be upheld and relevance must be assessed at every level. Assessing and ensuring high scientific quality are recognised challenges in resource-limited environments. This is an area where collaborations with well-resourced universities, research institutions and think-tanks can help to strengthen capacity. 2. Researchers receive appropriate supervision Supervision is a key element of training programmes. Appropriate supervision involves the right expertise and adequate time. Students and their research projects should be matched to supervisors who have a strong track record in their field and sufficient expertise to direct the student s research; for complex or multidisciplinary research, a student may require more than one supervisor. At senior levels (PhD and above) researchers should be supervised by a minimum of two supervisors, who can be from different institutions. Figure 2. Scientific quality outcomes 1. High-quality scientific oversight is available Access to processes and resources for scientific review and independent scientific advice will allow students and researchers to receive the guidance they need to produce high-quality and locally relevant research. Care should be given to having appropriately matched expertise to research areas. Students and supervisors should both commit to an agreed schedule. Supervisors must ensure that they have enough time and appropriate expertise to properly supervise their students and should meet with each student regularly and frequently. identifying supervisors to match programme research themes supervisor orientation and/or training keeping supervision logbooks. establishing and using a scientific advisory board establishing a review process for research projects. DELTAS Africa 6

7 Research training Objective 2: To strengthen scientific research training and build career pathways for scientific researchers Training specifically, training for research is a fundamental element of research capacity strengthening. DELTAS Africa focuses on the tertiary and postgraduate training of science students and professionals along a defined career pathway. promote scientific career pathways that are attractive and viable. assessing the local capacity for scientific research student outreach programmes. Figure 3. Research training career pathway The initiative identifies three key research training outcomes: 2. High-quality candidates are selected Selecting appropriately qualified and motivated candidates for training programmes requires robust processes. Selection decisions should include academic merit, among other clear and agreed criteria. When applying at PhD level and above, candidates might also be asked to demonstrate an interest in pursuing a scientific research career. Figure 4. Research training outcomes 1. Appropriate candidates are available and interested in a science career Having a pool of appropriately skilled candidates who are interested in a career in science is a prerequisite for selecting trainees. Programmes should carefully consider existing levels of local scientific capacity when determining the training stages that are appropriate to include from graduate interns to senior researchers. A research career pathway is also crucial. In many contexts, research might not be seen as a favourable career choice by potential candidates. In this case, it is particularly important to develop and establishing selection criteria establishing a qualified selection committee robust candidate selection processes (e.g. application, shortlisting and interview). 3. A high-quality training programme is in place Training programmes should provide individuals at all career stages with the academic support and research facilities they need to develop into world-class researchers, and programmes should clearly define research themes or areas in which they can offer appropriate training support and facilities. Ensuring that the right expertise is available can be particularly important when developing multidisciplinary training programmes. 7 DELTAS Africa

8 running study programmes and specialised short courses securing teaching commitments from expert faculty members supporting students seeking to be published in academic journals. DELTAS Africa 8

9 Scientific citizenship Objective 3: To foster mentorship, leadership and equitable collaboration in science, and engagement with public and policy stakeholders As researchers develop, they should be supported when taking on more responsibility in their research programmes and demonstrating greater independence in their research careers. Scientific excellence is often the product of good leadership and scientific collaborations, so researchers should be encouraged to develop their leadership and networking skills. For research to achieve real impact, it needs to leave the desk, the laboratory and the field. Communication with policy makers will help research findings inform health and science policy. Engaging with the public can raise public awareness and interest in science, increase the uptake of new health policies and treatments, and strengthen relationships with local communities. leadership development courses mentorship programmes. 2. Researchers join regional and international networks and collaborations Regional and international collaborations encourage the exchange of ideas and provide opportunities to expand networks, allowing reciprocal benefits. Researchers should be encouraged to participate and contribute where possible. participating in international scientific meetings peer reviews for journals sharing data. Figure 5. Scientific citizenship outcomes 1. Researchers take on increasing leadership roles in scientific programmes As researchers mature, they should be encouraged to take on increasingly responsible positions in their research programmes and laboratories. Support from mentors, as well as formal development programmes, will help researchers acquire the professional skills they will need to take on these roles. 3. Researchers and programmes engage with the public to raise awareness and interest An engaged public is better positioned to be involved in conversations about health research and science-driven health policy. Public engagement also supports collaborations between researchers and local communities, public organisations and cultural partners, and it can help attract the next generation of researchers by getting schoolchildren interested in science at an early age. scientific open days community meetings or workshops publishing opinion pieces. 9 DELTAS Africa

10 4. Researchers and programmes engage with and influence policy makers Translating research into evidence-based health policy is instrumental in achieving real health impacts. Researchers can inform health and science policy by engaging with policy makers and communicating their research at policy forums. They can also contribute through local advocacy or by working with national and regional policy groups. contributing to health and science policy forums developing government submissions on health issues contributing to national and/or regional technical guidance. DELTAS Africa 10

11 Research management and environment Objective 4: To cultivate professional environments to manage and support scientific research Developing and supporting research requires specific expertise in the area of research management. Researchers need access to skilled administrative support and adequate resources to compete at a global level, and creating supportive, sustainable environments is crucial to developing research capacity. 2. Appropriate physical infrastructure is available Appropriate infrastructure should be available to support a vibrant environment for both research training and research management. Research training infrastructure refers to the basic physical facilities needed to conduct scientific training, such as laboratories, field equipment, IT equipment, internet, lecture theatres and classrooms. Figure 6. Research management and environment outcomes 1. Enabling research management structures are in place Successful research programmes are backed up by functions such as finance, grants management, administration and ethical review. These activities require specialised support services, delivered by dedicated and professional staff, to bridge the gap between academic research and business management. strengthening financial accounting systems providing training in grants management ensuring ethical review processes. Research management infrastructure includes the facilities needed for the management of a research programme, such as a research support office, finance and accounting system, and grants management software. Applicants will be asked to describe how any requested resources will complement existing resources. Requests will only be supported if they demonstrably meet an unmet need. furnishing a research management centre paying for access to scientific journals upgrading bio-safety equipment. 11 DELTAS Africa

12 3. Sustainable funding is secured Securing independent and sustainable financial resources will enable programmes to adapt and flourish. Programmes should include plans to seek funding from other parties, including government agencies. arranging grant writing courses dialogue with institutional stakeholders meetings with funding organisations programme advocacy. DELTAS Africa 12

13 Key principles DELTAS Africa is aligned to international principles for strengthening research capacity in low- and middle-income countries, as identified by ESSENCE on Health Research an initiative to improve the coordination of research capacity investments by international funders. The principles are listed below, together with a description of how they will be applied in this scheme. Network, collaborate, communicate and share experiences Efforts to strengthen and develop research capacity are part of wider networks of activity. Programmes should make efforts to link with scientific collaborations and communicate effectively with a range of relevant stakeholders. Understand the local context and evaluate existing research capacity Research priorities should be informed by local needs, which can be determined in consultation with researchers, communities and policy makers. Decisions on research investments should be informed by assessments of existing and planned resource capacity. Ensure local ownership and active support Programmes should be owned and led by African institutions with full institutional commitment, as demonstrated by high-level support and active participation, management and leadership. Build in monitoring, evaluation and learning from the start Programmes will be asked to develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation plan, based on the initiative s monitoring and evaluation framework, to capture individual programme learnings and strategy-wide metrics. Establish robust research governance and support structures and promote effective leadership Programmes should ensure that appropriate mechanisms are used to support staff and researchers and to give programme management the mandate to lead and make decisions. Embed strong support, supervision and mentorship structures Programmes will be asked to include strong supervisory and mentorship structures, which are crucial to ensure the success of individual students and contribute to a strong research culture. Think long-term, be flexible and plan for continuity DELTAS Africa is an initiative with a long-term vision. Initially, awards will be made for up to five years, and funded programmes will be encouraged to actively seek long-term sustainability through support from national governments and other funders. ESSENCE on Health Research, Seven Principles for Strengthening Research Capacity in Low- and Middleincome Countries: Simple ideas in a complex world, ESSENCE Good practice document series. Available online at 13 DELTAS Africa

14 This work is the Wellcome Trust and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK. The future of science depends on the quality of science education today. We are a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests. Wellcome Trust Gibbs Building 215 Euston Road London NW1 2BE, UK T +44 (0) F +44 (0) E wellcome.ac.uk The Wellcome Trust is a charity registered in England and Wales, no Its sole trustee is The Wellcome Trust Limited, a company registered in England and Wales, no (whose registered office is at 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK). SI / /MC

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